12/05/2010 - On Watch

I woke at my normal time, despite going to sleep after midnight and was greeted by a beautiful blue sky, a bitter wind and the knowledge that within an hour I was going to be on duty again!

The dolphins I missed the first day were seen again and a pod crossed our stern, they were relatively small, dark skinned and heading south.  Their skin glistened and reflected the sun as they elegantly and effortlessly appeared and disappeared beneath the waves, I miss the days working in Tenerife when observing these creatures was a daily experience, I never tire of watching them.   I need to look up their characteristics and see what they might be, wonder if I can pick up a whale and dolphin identification book in Panama?

We were up and setting sail before I knew it and I scaled the stays up to the main t´gallant to loose the t’gallant sail, I am not sure if it was the effort of skinning up the rigging or the extra challenge of being aloft miles offshore with the wind and the swell throwing me around on the, still very slippery, footropes but I was sweating like a pig,.. I decided to have a shower today, it has been 4 days, I think it’s about time!  Despite the sweat, I managed to keep my grip and loosed off the t´gallant with time to spare and enjoyed the vista of the ocean from my viewpoint 30-odd metres above the deck, from here the horizon would be about 25 miles,… the azure blue sky joined the cobalt sea in a perfectly straight line that had no end.

Being on watch during the day is drastically different to being on watch at night,.. despite the sun, it is still bitterly cold, but there is more to distract you from it,..  I was on watch and helmed maintaining a SSW course and was told we were at the same latitude as Boston,.. still a long way to Panama, but every day we edge closer.  We are hoping to hit the gulf stream within a couple of days, but the wind is not on our side and remains a rather poor westerly (coming from the west, not going to the West as I learnt) 1-2 knots,.. we were motoring again for the majority of the day to make up time!  Jo spied another pod of dolphins and an unidentified large whale in the distance off the port side, got to get myself a book to be able to identify these fantastic creatures.

We identified some as Atlantic striped dolphins and another pod as common dolphins.

I popped down into the salon to drop something off in my bunk to find a particularly concerned Via and Tammy peering into the sole (The storage area under the floor in the salon) and shouting out Chibley’s name,… apparently Via hadn’t seen her sitting behind her, opened the sole and in she jumped… we were informed by the mate that this was normal and just to shut it up, “she’d find her way out”, he said!  Just before dinner I was arranging my bunk only to find a pathetic mewing coming from the other side of my bunk wall (known nautically as a “bulkhead”),… we opened up the nearest sole and called to an obviously miffed Chibley who looked at us accusingly as if to say,.. “ I know it was you who locked me in!!”… She’ll probably be sick in our bunks later to get us back!!

Whilst on lookout I was relieved by Meredith who walked straight past me onto the fo’c’sle head,… some lookout she was going to be!!

The captain decided we were going to drift in the now glassy sea to wait for a low to pass below us from the west, at which point we should be perfectly placed to jump on it’s anticyclonic north-westerly  winds, we were informed that this should hit us sometime tonight.  Unfortunately it didn’t hit during our watch and we sat in the silence waiting and waiting and waiting, no helm as we weren’t moving and so we sat together on the quarterdeck deciding how we were going to invent a new Norwegian anthem for Norway day the following Monday and how we were going to create “onesies” (essentially jumpsuits)..  we also learned how to box a compass i.e. North, north by west, NNW, NNW by west, West by North, North etc, etc… - you can look it up on google!

No bioluminescence as such today as we weren’t moving, but loud dolphinesque noises came at us from the dark, we later decided that they were in fact birds, not dolphins,.. but it kept us amused for a while!


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